A recipe similar to this one appears in the estimable Theodora FitzGibbon’s 1965 cookbook, The Art of British Cooking , which really describes her personal variation on Anglo-Irish cuisine. Mrs. FitzGibbon, however, calls for “½ head” of chopped celery, a description that the editor frequently encounters British cookbooks but finds incomprehensible in context. Her recipe also uses less butter and flour: we found that the higher proportions here were necessary to nap the sprouts. It also omits the mace, cayenne and white pepper. This treatment takes the edge off of sprouts; even people who ordinarily avoid them like this treatment: A must for turkey dinner and a good winter mate for any hearty stew.
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
- 2 oz. unsalted butter
- 1½ Tablespoons flour
- 10 oz. warm milk
- about five celery stalks chopped into 1/3 inch crescents
- pinch of mace
- pinch of cayenne
- ½ teaspoon (or more) white pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°
- Bring a pot of salted water to a hard boil over high heat; dump in the sprouts and return the pot to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook the sprouts until barely fork tender, usually for about 10 minutes. Drain the sprouts and put them in a lidded ovenproof casserole.
- Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat, whisk in the flour to form a paste and slowly stir in the warm milk. Add the mace, cayenne, white pepper and celery, and stir in the sauce gently until it thickens.
- Pour the sauce over the sprouts, mix it up, and bake until bubbly, 20-30 minutes.
- You can prepare this in advance and then pop it in the oven half an hour before dinnertime (or while your turkey rests and you calmly make the gravy).
It is important to warm the milk to at least 100°F or the sauce may curdle. The older cookbooks call for boiling or a least scalding the milk used in all white sauces for the same reason.